Family Storks (Ciconiidae)

Least Concern

African Woollyneck (Ciconia microscelis)


French: Cigogne à pattes noires German: Afrika-Wollhalsstorch Spanish: Cigüeña lanuda africana

Ciconia microscelis

G. R. Gray

, 1848,

no locality = Africa


Hitherto treated as a race of C. episcopus, but differs in having rear edge of black cap streaked white vs sharp clear division from black to white (2); face and cheek feathered blackish with white streaks at rear edge vs naked dull grey forehead and face to ear cavity (3); tail longer (216±13.2 vs 191±9.05, effect size 2.21, score 2); also tends to have darker, greyer legs. Monotypic.


Tropical Africa from Senegambia E to Eritrea, S to N Botswana and E South Africa.

Descriptive notes

86–95 cm. Neck feathers very soft, black of plumage glossed blue and purple; forked tail black, but usually obscured by long undertail-coverts. Immature duller and browner.


Largely silent away from nest-site. At nest, said to make raucous calls (but doubted by others) and... read more


Usually in or by wetlands such as rivers, lakes, flood plains, marshes, flooded pastures and... read more

Food and feeding

Fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, large insects and their larvae: including termite alates and army worms, crabs, reptiles, molluscs and... read more


Usually lays in dry season throughout Africa, but during rains in N Sudan. Solitary, though pairs may be close together in E Africa. Nests... read more


Mainly resident, but some regional N/S movements are reported, during which flocks of up to several... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). The best available estimates of the global population according to Wetlands International are imprecise but put it within the range... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2020). African Woollyneck (Ciconia microscelis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).